A Game Is Fine Too
A Somewhat Citrus-Flavoured Ranma ½ Fan Fiction
© 2008–10 by gsteemso
Not my characters. Ranma ½ belongs to Takahashi Rumiko.
Ranma, her telltale red hair concealed beneath a dark blue wig in an average-looking cut and wearing a St. Hebereke school uniform, both for purposes of camouflage, walked out of the ice cream parlour and blew a long breath out through the wig's synthetic bangs. She had just had what was undoubtedly one of her strangest conversations with a friend EVER, and considering that she'd had both Akari's sumo pigs and various people with extremely odd Jusenkyo curses to talk about in the past, that was saying something. She looked back through the window, and nodded back at the cheerfully waving Konatsu, before wandering down the street towards the nearest spot she could shed her disguise without being observed.
Konatsu had been so happy for the rare chance to freely indulge in girl talk, particularly of the naughty variety, that Ranma had found herself being more forthcoming than she'd intended with the details of her extended sexplay the previous night with — she shuddered; why had it had to be RYOGA of all people? In any case, she'd found herself recounting what parts felt good and what parts felt amazing, in addition to the expected grumbling about the choice of partner; and Konatsu had been so fascinated that she, Ranma, had found herself actually smiling proudly about the "amazing" parts, as she'd waved her hands evocatively for the wide-eyed ninja.
All in all, now that she'd had some time to assimilate the concept, the idea of having had sex in girl form didn't really seem like that big a deal, somehow. She knew she'd rather do it in guy form, and she still couldn't see herself having any sort of sex with a male again any time short of a full scale invasion by pod people, but she hadn't changed at all inside. She was still a kick-ass martial artist, she was still fundamentally a guy who spent part of his time female, and the fact that she'd discovered a new way to feel good didn't really affect anything important.
She sighed again. That last part was actually kind of depressing; figuring out a way to have sex again would be a great idea, especially if Ranma was a guy at the time, but the only girl she really wanted to be with that way was violently opposed to anything sexual.
Oh well. It had to get better some time, right?
Tendo Akane moped in through the front door of the family home, absently calling the usual greeting as she entered. She was very worried about her gender-bending fiancé. What had he gotten mixed up in this time? It must have been pretty strange for him to engage in his disgusting ogling right in front of her like he had in gym class. Normally she had him trained to conceal his perversions better than that.
It should be noted that Akane's perceptions were seldom terribly congruent with reality, at least where her reluctant fiancé was concerned.
She made her way up to her room and flopped on the bed with a whoosh of exhaled breath. "Oh, Ranma…" she mumbled worriedly, losing herself in ever more distressing scenarios.
A couple of rooms down the hall, her middle sister Nabiki worked a telephone, trying to figure out where her favourite cash cow Ranma had disappeared to after school. If there was a new challenger on the scene, she stood to make a good chunk of pocket change once she figured the angles on the situation.
Finally, she struck lucky. "He's where?" She listened in surprise. "All right. Thanks, Natoko. I'll have ¥800 for you next accounting lecture." She hung up and looked into space for a moment.
Ranma was apparently male and walking back towards the Tendo home from the other end of Furinkan district, where no one had seen him doing anything of note. How odd. She shrugged and began calling various fiancées and rivals, yen signs dancing in her mind's eye. It was hardly her fault they could be goaded into making the craziest of leaps of logic with only a slight twist of phrase on her part.
Mousse of the Amazons was a fairly proud person. In his mind, it was just plain bad luck that he ended up looking stupid so frequently, though an unbiased observer would have to say that his stubborn refusal to wear his cokebottle glasses so often when he really needed to was a strong contributing factor.
At the moment, he was on the warpath. That cad Saotome had STRUCK his beautiful Shampoo! What she saw in the boor he couldn't imagine.
After a close call involving 200 feet of heavy chain tipped with an axe, a policeman wearing his hair in a pigtail, and Mousse not using his glasses, the duck-cursed fool had been forced to concede that hunting his prey would be easier with the aid of semi-accurate eyesight, and had lowered the inch-thick lenses from their accustomed place on his forehead. He was working his way around town in a steadily widening spiral from Furinkan high school outwards, as that had been the womanizing bastard's last known location to anyone who couldn't afford Nabiki's rates for information.
At last! "SAOTOME! YOUR END HAS COME!" Mousse launched a few tons of sharp pointy objects on chains out of his sleeves, not a single blade of which came near his target.
"What crawled up your butt and died?" asked Ranma, skipping easily up to the rooftops and looking curiously back at the Chinese fighter.
"What! You need to ask me that after what you did? DIE!"
"Oh, THAT." Ranma sounded offensively disinterested, and it just made Mousse angrier.
"AAAARGH! Stand still and take your punishment like a good girl!"
Ranma glowered darkly. That was low, even for Mousse.
There was a complicated moment that ended with Mousse swinging by his steel shoe-claws from an overhead street light, tangled hopelessly in a few miles of heavy steel chain that led back into his own sleeves underneath it all.
"Shampoo deserved what she got. Mind your own business, beaky." Ranma smirked as Mousse descended into incoherent frothing at the mouth. Yup, still had it.
Ranma headed home.
Akane sat up alertly at the sound of Ranma's cheerful greeting as he came through the front door. She was no closer to figuring out why he'd been so upset earlier, but it sounded like it had been a temporary condition. She paused in her bedroom's doorway, hearing the faint tones of her eldest sister, Kasumi, speaking briefly with him. Her eyebrows shot up as she realized he was heading up the stairs towards her in response. She stealthily closed the door again and ghosted over to sit on her bed.
The floor outside her door creaked, and there came a hesitant tapping at about shoulder height.
"Come in?" she called uncertainly.
The door popped open a few inches and Ranma peered cautiously through the gap. "Uh, Kasumi-chan said you were worried about me because of the detention and stuff?"
Akane firmed her resolve, and nodded with a half-smile. "Come in and talk to me?" She knew they had to get better at talking to each other sooner or later, and better to start sooner than later.
Ranma looked surprised, and nodded hesitantly. He came all the way in and shut the door behind himself. "I guess you're wondering about why I hit Shampoo?" he predicted.
Akane nodded, and said, "I know you must have had a reason," — Ranma nodded solemnly — "but it was kind of scary seeing that without knowing what the reason was. What did she do, anyway?"
"She tried to be all perverted at me and acted like she could lead me around by doing it, even after all the time she's had to learn about me. She's disgusting!"
Akane sat in stunned disbelief. None of the scenarios she'd constructed to explain the day's events even came close to what Ranma had just told her. "You're seriously telling me she was even more perverted than you? My gods!" She couldn't even begin to imagine it.
Ranma glowered. "Yeah, right. Because we ALL know YOU'RE such a beacon of purity, little Miss 'Hits Me When She Thinks of Something Gross and Then Has the Nerve to Call ME a Pervert.' "
Akane didn't quite know how to respond to that, so she set it aside for later contemplation of revenge. "…How come you never hit her before?"
Ranma blanched. The last thing he wanted to do was tell anyone he'd felt threatened in his masculinity. "…Uhh… I just saw it more clearly than usual, I guess," he ad-libbed desperately.
Akane looked at him suspiciously, but couldn't see any clear excuse to argue. "Aren't you worried about what Cologne will do?"
"Not really. If she thinks I'd be an abusive husband she might decide to go back to China and leave us alone." Left unsaid was that Mousse was no credible threat at all.
"I think she'd be more likely to try and 'fix' you," said Akane dubiously. "You know those Amazons are a bit overly free with the brainwashing."
Ranma looked dismayed. "Didn't think of that," he admitted. Now he was going to be worrying about that for the rest of the week. Wonderful.
Akane rolled her eyes. "Don't worry about it… I'm sure someone will get you unhooked from the Amazons' dog leash before they make you do anything TOO humiliating."
Ranma gulped noisily, and began retreating towards the door. "Gee, thanks…" he muttered despondently.
"Oh, calm down, you big baby. All you have to do is talk to Cologne and threaten to declare a feud against Shampoo unless she acts less slutty towards you. She may have no self-control, but that old bat can keep her pretty tightly reined in when it suits her."
Ranma developed a hunted expression. "Do I really have to go that far? I don't want to declare a feud with the kind of idiots who fight to the death for stupid reasons."
Akane blinked in surprise. "I hadn't thought of it like that, but it'll still work even if they find out you don't want to go through with it. As long as it looks like you still would, they'll have to treat your grievance as a serious one."
Ranma looked grim. "I guess you're right. I'd better go take care of that now, while Mousse is still tied up."
Kuno Tatewaki raced silently through the halls of his family home, trying to reach the nearest exit without attracting the attention of—
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, keiki! You think you a-goin' out on the town as a Kuno when you got a haircut like that?"
Damn! he thought, turning to confront one of the banes of his existence, otherwise known to the community at large as his father. He was barely in time to intercept the man's omnipresent hair clippers with his equally omnipresent wooden training sword, as the elder Kuno tried in vain to subject his son to a humiliating buzz cut. The servants fled in terror as the fight raged through the halls, finally ending in a draw at the door to the side yard. "Vile fiend! Look what you've done to my noble blade! How am I supposed to smite that fiend Saotome with a sword like this⁈" He waved the bundle of shredded splinters for emphasis.
"What you got to complain about, boyo? How am I supposed to cut off his pigtail with clippers like these?" The miniature palm tree on Principal Kuno's head shook with emotion as he waved the trashed hair-trimming implements under Tatewaki's nose.
"Hmm. We both desire to see Saotome humiliated. Truce until we succeed?"
"Boy howdy yeah, we do de Father-Son Bonding exercise and trim dat bad keiki's hair but good!"
Eyeing one another suspiciously, they backed off and went to replace their weapons of choice, before meeting inside the front gate to the Kuno compound. Avoiding the trap on the gate, they went forth to smite Saotome Ranma, in the name of Truth, Justice and Questionably Stylish Haircuts.
They made it almost three blocks before simultaneously double-crossing one another.
Ranma walked down the street. He was, quite without noticing, at the centre of a travelling empty spot on the sidewalks; for he was reviewing out loud what he would say to Cologne, and considering he was juggling phrases like "blood feud" and "personal sex toy," he was being given quite a wide berth by disapproving passersby.
One harried mother tried to tell him off for being crude in public, but he was so caught up in his rehearsals that he didn't even notice.
"Gosh, Mama, is it really OK to throw rocks at people like that? And why did you miss? Awk! What'd I say? MOOOOMMM!"
Earlier that afternoon, Konatsu had returned to Ucchan's Okonomiyaki and reported that Ranma was just a bit stressed out and would be fine once he had some time to relax. Ukyo would have been more inclined to believe this was a completely accurate account if Konatsu hadn't been all flushed, giggly, and had ice cream on her nose. She was powerless to investigate on her own, though, as the dinner rush was already starting.
Ranma, surprisingly enough still male, walked in through the front doors of the Cat Café and reflexively dodged both the thrown cleavers from Mousse and the flying glomp-tackle from Shampoo. He did a double take at that last one — didn't she remember being knocked unconscious last time she tried to be overly affectionate? — but it appeared she'd written it off as a freak occurrence, and was not expecting a repeat. "Hi guys, is the old ghoul in?"
"Son-in-Law," greeted a wizened shape on the counter behind the till. "Come to apologize, have you?"
"No," he replied as evenly as he could manage, turning to face her and drawing closer across the room. "I've come to tell you that if Shampoo tries to treat me as her personal sex toy one more time, I will consider myself forced to declare a blood feud against her."
There was sudden dead silence as the three Amazons, as well as all the nearby diners, turned to stare at him. It suddenly occurred to Ranma that doing this during the dinner rush probably wasn't the smartest thing he'd ever done, but it was too late to take the words back now. He tried not to sink too far into the Soul of Ice, knowing that frost on the furniture would give him away, and watched Cologne carefully.
The Elder blinked slowly. "…I beg your pardon?" she asked disbelievingly. She briefly glanced at Shampoo to see if the girl had any idea what this was about, but it was immediately obvious that her great-granddaughter was completely flummoxed. "Oh, for the Ancestors' sake, shut your mouth, girl! Catching flies is unbecoming of an Amazon warrior." She returned her attention to Ranma without waiting for a response, and looked down at him with her most disapproving stare. It was guaranteed to make foolish children soil themselves, at least under normal circumstances.
Apparently these weren't. "Listen, old ghoul, every time Shampoo sees me she tries to get into my pants, and let me tell you, that's damn disturbing when she's in cursed form." He grimaced, and continued, "All I want is to be treated as a person rather than a drooling pervert, OK? I get enough of that crap from Akane." He cocked an eyebrow and waited for a response.
Cologne blinked rapidly, as she assimilated the idea that her great-granddaughter's efforts at courting were apparently a lot less subtle and elegant than the girl had let on.
"I don't know what to say, my boy," she admitted reluctantly. "Do you mean to tell me that she has been behaving like a cheap floozy rather than a sophisticated leader of warriors?"
"Well… yes, honestly. I'd have thought Mousse's whining—"
"—and what the other fiancées call her would have been clues. Are you telling me she wasn't supposed to be acting like a slut?"
Cologne's left eye twitched, but she held her peace with an admirable degree of restraint. "No, she wasn't. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. You may go now," she grated out. The nearby patrons all looked annoyed as their ramen bowls froze over from the Elder's Soul of Ice.
"Uh, right… Thanks, Granny." Ranma retreated as quickly as dignity would allow, leaving the Amazons to, ah, debate the topic amongst themselves.
The next day, Ryoga trod steadily through the woods near Tokyo's outer fringes. He had made it as far as the gate to the Unryū family farm when he'd suddenly realized he couldn't face Akari after cheating on her. True, he hadn't wanted to beforehand or afterwards and couldn't understand how the preposterous event had taken place at all, but somehow he didn't think she'd take kindly to hearing about his fantasies about another woman, especially since that woman was another boy part of the time. (He'd twitched faintly.) In the end he had left a letter in the mailbox, explaining that he had some personal issues to work out and didn't want to inflict his presence on Akari until he would make better company, which he hoped shouldn't take too long.
Now that he only had one destination in mind, Ryoga's twisted path was once again closing in on Ranma, not that he really realized it. He just knew that if he walked long enough, he got where he needed to be, even if it wasn't always where he wanted to be.
He wasn't sure WHERE he wanted to be at this moment, but he knew he wanted to see girl-Ranma again. His sensitive wilderness-adapted nose could still faintly smell her intoxicating female musk on the ends of his outer bandanna; it had made an excellent tool for tickling her intimate parts two nights before. The scent was possibly affecting his judgement, he knew, but it seemed as good a goal as any.
Hours later, Ryoga looked around himself to see if he'd wandered into Nerima ward yet (he thought he was probably in Seoul, which would place him only a few minutes from that nice sunny beach in New Zealand, and perhaps half an hour from the summit of Mount Fuji), and was startled to discover the Tendo Dojo's sign on the wall beside him. "Huh? Did they move the dojo again?" Not expecting anyone to answer the unanswerable — a category into which any question involving geography fell, to Ryoga's way of thinking — he proceeded through the gate in the property wall and knocked on the front door of the house itself. It was answered promptly by someone who'd been foremost in his thoughts all morning. He was rather annoyed that that description was no longer a reference to Akane.
The door slid open, revealing a female Ranma in her Red Army worker's uniform. Her expression closed down as she got a look at who had knocked. "Oh. It's you." She didn't look anywhere near as chipper as she normally did when he bumped into her, which he supposed was hardly surprising.
"Um. Hi?" Ryoga looked awkward for a moment. "Wanna spar?" he asked with a tentative but hopeful smile.
Ranma gave him a long measuring look. Unseen in the house behind her, the three Tendo sisters were observing the encounter with varying degrees of puzzlement — they could feel that something was slightly amiss, but none of them were quite sure what or why.
"Sure, I guess." She absently waved for him to follow her as she turned and went around the house towards the dojo. "Let's use the dojo today, I don't like the looks of those rain clouds. Think you can manage to not destroy the building?" she asked over her shoulder, only half in jest.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up," mock-grumbled Ryoga with a small smile. "I'd like to focus on my speed today, for a change… basic speed without special techniques, I mean. How 'bout you, anything particular you've been wanting to practice?"
"Not really. I'm still trying to figure out what's wrong with your Rubber Cloth technique, though… Are you going to keep it as part of your private family style, or can you show me how you're doing it?" As Ryoga might have expected if he'd thought that far ahead, Ranma's demeanour thawed considerably as the conversation moved into the safe and familiar realms of martial arts theory. Without really noticing, she unconsciously weighed the request for speed training and concluded that she was already in the most appropriate body, forgetting her earlier unease at being female near Ryoga with the change of subject.
Following her into the dojo, Ryoga had to think about that one. It was hard to give the question the proper attention in the face of that maddening, wonderful scent he could just catch from the tips of his outer bandanna, to say nothing of Ranma's overwhelming physical presence. Gods, I could watch her move like that all day… he thought happily, before wrenching himself back on topic. "I hadn't really thought about it. I guess I want to keep it part of the Hibiki school, but I don't mind showing YOU if you agree not to teach it to anyone." With an effort, he managed to sound sober rather than maudlin as he said it.
"OK, we can do that later on, after I give you a righteous beatdown," she said cockily, grinning.
"Ha! In your dreams!" Aggression trumped desire in Ryoga's subconscious, and the match was joined.
Later, after Ryoga had put two holes in the dojo walls trying to hit Ranma, the two sat seiza in the middle of the room and prepared to test the Rubber Cloth technique. Ryoga took off his outer bandanna, realized with a horrified start that if he could still smell it Ranma might also, and stuffed it hurriedly into his pocket.
Ranma gave him a funny look, but subsided as he took off the next bandanna and started to explain the technique. It was more complicated than Ranma had expected, but once she saw the trick, she understood it. After some thought, she asked Ryoga, "did you ever try this against something with its own chi flows, like a tree?"
"No, actually. Never thought of it."
"Hmm. Let me try something…" She reached out and tried to Stretch the sleeve of Ryoga's shirt while it was still on him.
"Hee!" Ryoga acquired a peculiar squint-eyed expression and had trouble sitting still. "That tickles something awful!" It didn't seem to do anything else, though.
Much to both of their surprise, Ranma's pigtail promptly untied itself and her hair wrapped itself tightly around both sides of her head, completely obscuring her vision. Sneezing and spluttering, she hurriedly dropped Ryoga's shirtsleeve and swept her hair out of her face. It came away reluctantly, as though it were charged with static electricity, but without the crackling and sparks. "Okay, that was different," she said disbelievingly.
As Ranma retied her hair, Ryoga had an idea. "I wonder what happens if I try to Stretch something I'm wearing?" he mused, and promptly tried it on his other sleeve. Next to nothing happened; the sleeve got maybe a thumb's width longer. "Damn, that would have been useful," he said, thinking of weighted sleeves and drawing a parallel with Mousse's robe full of chains.
"You tried it on your sleeve? I think that about sums it up — the chi pattern is fiddly enough you can't do it when there's much other chi up against whatever you're trying to stretch."
"Looks like," he agreed, mildly disappointed. "But then why did it work when I used it against the old pervert? He was still holding onto that bra — that's how I got rid of him."
"I think it's because he was only holding on with one hand, and his hands are pretty small. Not much area there for the chi to interact, so it still worked. But it didn't really work when you tried it on me before that — plus it reflects back on you and unties stuff if there's any other chi involved. Bummer, that really limits what you can use it for."
They sat in silence for a moment. Ryoga looked over at her and gathered his courage. "Hey, you've got something on your shirt," he said innocently, pointing.
"Eh?" Ranma craned her head, trying to look at her own neck.
Ryoga moved casually around behind her, reaching for the back of her shoulder where he'd pointed — and, before she knew what was happening, had wrapped his arms around her from behind. One hand wrapped around hers, the fingers intertwined, while the other arm came to rest under her bosom with that hand gently cupping her breast and the thumb perilously close to the pink bit.
She froze in disbelief, her eyes wide. "Hey! What the hell? Ryoga! Are you trying to get us killed?" she hissed in alarm, terrified not so much of what he might be trying to do — which she still had conceptual difficulty applying to herself, even after what she was coming to think of as the Incident At Ryoga's House and all that it implied — as of what would happen if anyone else in the house found her in this kind of position. She knew it wouldn't make any difference that she hadn't asked for it. People always assumed the worst.
"Sshhh," he tried to soothe her, doing his best to ignore the way her startlement was rapidly turning to annoyance. He hurriedly bent his head to nibble gently at a certain spot on the side of her neck, while simultaneously stroking the breast and hand where his own hands were resting, moving his fingers just so. He figured it was probably some kind of obscure pressure point combo the two of them had stumbled upon two nights earlier, judging by the results — which were immediate and pronounced.
"Wha—Oooohhh…" Ranma involuntarily melted into his embrace, her mind suddenly a hazy puddle of bliss. Attempting to focus through the blazing trails of ecstasy he continued to draw on her skin, she glared weakly up at the boy behind her. "What do you think you're—? Let go of me! We're both— ahOHhhh— GUYS, dammit! Doesn't that even— ah-oh-OH! —matter to you?" It was all she could do to keep her voice down to avoid advertising her predicament.
"Haven't you ever heard of 'friends with benefits?' " he asked gently, forcing down his nervousness. This was only his old buddy Ranma, after all. He moved his hands abruptly and wiggled his fingertips against her body just there, and she instantly melted again.
"AaAaoooOOoo! You sicko! I'm not gay, okay? I like girls, and you're — oooOOohhhh — not one!"
"Yeah, but you like this too, don't you?" It hadn't escaped his notice that she hadn't actually tried to distance herself yet.
Unfortunately for Ryoga, that was mainly due to shock combined with the jellied nerves that follow a powerful blast of carnal pleasure. "Leave me out of your sick fantasies! Rrragh!" Growling, Ranma twisted like an oyster knife in his arms, landing a strong blow to his chin with the top of her head and popping herself loose. She immediately followed up with a snap kick to Ryoga's groin — which only missed neutering him because her nerves were still jangling violently with aftershocks of pleasure, causing her foot to land almost a quarter handspan off target — and a powerful piledriver to the top of his head, which didn't miss.
The Lost Boy was smashed most of the way through the dojo floor, and Ranma stood before her erstwhile sex partner panting and trembling with righteous feminine fury. The only thing that saved Ryoga's life in that moment was that she couldn't decide on the most painful way to kill him. Not even Sanzenin Mikado, the womanizing creep who'd stolen her first kiss, had made Ranma feel so horribly wrong, and the rage she'd felt after that ghastly incident paled before her volcanic wrath now.
Being harder to damage than the average tank armour thanks to the breaking point training, Ryoga was mostly unfazed, and had only let go of Ranma because he wanted to seduce her rather than molest her. "Come on, it's not like I'm pulling a Kuno on you. I just want us to enjoy ourselves some. Is that so wrong?" he asked earnestly from his vantage point around knee level.
"Would you want to do it as a pig? This ISN'T FUNNY!" she ground out. Some rationality returning as her jangling nerves stabilized, and knowing she wouldn't be able to hurt him as badly as she wanted without a good risk of inflicting fatal damage into the bargain, Ranma kicked him hard in the nose and then forced herself to step back a bit so as to reduce the chance of committing homicide. She felt a bit better at the sight of the damned pig-boy's blood-coated face. She smoothed out her rumpled shirt with quick motions, trying to ignore the yearning moistness at her centre and the tingling of her traitorous nipples as her hands swept down her shirt front. One of the many drawbacks to the Incident At Ryoga's House was that she had gained a whole new set of ways to be pleasurably incapacitated by someone she considered friendly, and what was worse, Ryoga knew every one of them intimately.
Ryoga sighed, reset his broken nose with a grimace, and levered himself out of the splintered floorboards, moving back to give her more space. "I'm not attacking you, Ranma. If you're really not interested, I'll respect that. But look at you! Just a few seconds together, and you had three big o-orgasms—" he choked to a halt, blushing and poking his index fingers together, but forged ahead anyway — "Aren't you happy to find something good about the curse for a change? It beats being a pet pig, even to someone as special as Akane-san, by a country mile! And let me tell you, I've walked a lot of those." It was a marathon speech by Ryoga's standards, and he predictably ran out of inspiration. He fell silent, watching Ranma's murderous expression earnestly. The blood pouring out of his nose had by this point slowed to a trickle.
Ranma clenched her hands in fury, her knuckles popping. The comment about her orgasms had only made her angrier. Her instincts and muscle memory were pulling her in half a dozen viciously pain-dispensing directions at once, which was perhaps the only downside to knowing as many possible attack moves as she did. She glared indecisively at him for a tense, protracted moment — beginning the long process to reclassify him in her mind from "good news: childhood buddy, good for a spar" to "bad news: pervert, maim on sight," a change which the ever forgiving Ranma had great difficulty making permanent, even now — before going briefly unfocussed as an idea struck her. She fixed Ryoga with a malevolent stare and a slow, evil grin, grinding one clenched fist slowly into the opposite palm.
He began to sweat nervously. "R-ranma? What are you thinking?" He was getting very worried — nothing good ever came from someone looking at him like that.
"So you think turning into a girl and becomin' a big, juicy target for every drooling pervert in town is better than turning into a small, juicy lunch special? Well, maybe… I'll grant you that only that stupid Eight-Headed Orochi ever tried to actually eat me. But," she hissed angrily, "we can find out easy enough. I dare you! Take a dip in Instant Spring-of-Drowned-Girl water, and see how much you like losing your self-control and your virginity to another GUY. I'm damn sure I could get a sick bastard like Kuno interested in girl-you in a hurry." Ranma was red in the face, and shaking from the effort of keeping her voice down, by the end of her rant.
Ryoga looked shocked. Somehow, when Ranma put it that way, he felt like the lowest of the low for touching her. Just because something felt pleasant didn't mean it felt right, he suddenly realized. No wonder she was angry.
He owed her… He owed him. How had he lost sight of the fact that Ranma was a boy inside the sexy girl?
Ryoga's tendency to overreact to things came to the fore once again. He straightened his shoulders, and stoically faced his just desserts square on. "I… You're right, Ranma. I—I—I'll do it. You deserve that much. But I'll tell you right now, we're leaving that stick-waving moron well out of it, OK?"
Ranma looked shocked, and a little horrified. While she was still royally pissed off, what Ryoga was expressing a willingness to do was all but unfathomable to her, and so shocking that she found herself thoroughly sidetracked trying to wrap her mind around it. Ranma was coping with the memory of having willingly had sex with another male largely through her usual method of simply not thinking about it. She had assimilated the experience to the point where it wasn't threatening her self-image any more, but Ryoga's success at putting the moves on her had demonstrated that she couldn't just put it all behind her, as she'd originally intended. (She shuddered briefly in disgust.) And he was volunteering for that kind of psychological scarring?
She abruptly found herself sitting down again, overwhelmed by the magnitude of it. Obviously, Ryoga had no idea what he was walking into. Could she, in good conscience, make him go through with the dare? Then she realized her boxers had gotten soggy in the course of her earlier arousal at Ryoga's hands, something no male should ever experience, and a cold fury bloomed once more. Right, then… "Wait here," she commanded him briskly, standing up. "I'm going to go get some hot water, and then we're going to visit the Old Ghoul for a packet of that stuff. I'm going to hold you to this, got it?"
He gulped, and nodded once, watching her go.
Ranma, blessedly male again, marched grimly through the doors of the Cat Café, Ryoga trotting uneasily at his heels. Annoyingly, Cologne, Mousse and Shampoo were nowhere to be seen. Ranma approached Shampoo's father at the till and gave a brief courtesy bow. He wished for politeness' sake he could remember the man's name, but the ramen chef was such an irrelevant background figure in Ranma's life that it had escaped him within five minutes of his first hearing it. "Yo, is the old ghoul around? We need to talk to her."
Shampoo's father scowled darkly at him. "I suppose you're proud of my daughter's loss of face? They've gone to the mountains for six weeks of extreme and intensive retraining. The Elder was very upset. Now my brother, my nephew and I are stuck doing the work of six people to run this restaurant, and I've been given impossible sales goals for the duration. I'm quite upset myself, if you hadn't guessed. So, tell me, why would any of us here want to help you with anything? If it were up to me Shampoo would follow through with the Kiss of Death rather than that of Marriage. You're not good enough for her."
Ranma blinked. The fact that he was still simmering with anger helped him to ignore the insult in favour of his original objective. "All we need is a packet of Instant Jusenkyo powder. We can pay for it if we have to. I know you have Spring-of-Drowned-Girl packets — Shampoo was bugging me in human form in the rain last weekend. Will you please let us have one?"
"You already turn into a girl. What good would a packet of that stuff do you?"
"That dumbass—" Ranma indicated the uneasy figure of the Lost Boy loitering in the entryway of the café — "keeps trying to tell me that turning into a girl and getting hit on by other guys isn't that bad of a curse. I want to make him eat his words."
Shampoo's father considered that for a moment, though he continued to frown at them. "You want to settle once and for all whether being a girl or being a pig is worse. I see." Ryoga looked mortified that this nonentity of a man knew about his Jusenkyo curse. "We don't have any instant Spring-of-Drowned-Piglet for you to try, but you're correct, we do have a few girl-water packets. My better judgement says I should send you away empty-handed until you pay off all those free meals my daughter keeps giving you, but I have to admit I'm morbidly curious as to the results. All right. Wait here. Don't touch anything." He disappeared up the back stairs to the living area. Sounds of distant rummaging ensued.
Ryoga looked glumly at Ranma. Yep, he was still pissed off. Best not to say anything.
Ranma stared grimly at the curtained doorway Shampoo's father had disappeared through. The sooner he was out of this vipers' nest masquerading as an eatery, the happier he would be. Making a female Ryoga suffer the indignity of being ogled and groped by horny male teenagers in downtown Nerima, and maybe on the subway for good measure, would be just what the doctor ordered. He'd have to stick her into a Playboy bunny suit or a bikini or something, on a crowded sidewalk of course, while they were at it. Too bad the beach was so far away. Some of those buff types who thought they were the gods' gift to teenage girls tended to collect on beaches, as though sun-drenched sandy expanses by the sea were some sort of cosmic lint trap for humans. Those assholes would be the perfect antidote to Ryoga's cavalier attitude towards involuntary girlhood. With his boxers still a bit femininely damp and starting to chafe, Ranma was in no mood for letting the Lost Boy off with half measures.
Finally, Shampoo's father came back, bearing a single small packet in one hand. "My daughter must have taken the box of these with her to train, but fortunately for you, she missed one. That will be ten thousand yen, please."
Ryoga grimaced, but forked over the cash. It took most of his savings from the past month. Ranma snatched up the profferred sachet, spun on his heel, and led the way out with impolite haste.
Ryoga considered that Ranma had better prepare the drowned-girl water soon or he was going to lose his nerve. He still didn't see how it could be all THAT bad, but Ranma's malevolent cackling was beginning to get on his nerves.
END PART TWO
Latest revision as of Thurs. 2010/01/14